By Abhishek Jha:
The annual fees for undergraduate courses in IITs will be hiked from existing Rs 90,000 to Rs. 2 lakh from the upcoming academic session, the MHRD announced in a press release on April 7. A decision to hike the fee by over two-fold has been proposed by the HRD Ministry following a proposal by an IIT panel, HRD Ministry officials said. Last month the Standing Committee of IIT Council (SCIC) had approved a three-fold hike and asked for revision of annual tuition fee in IITs to Rs. 3 lakh per annum.
The Ministry has also set conditions to the proposed hike. The total tuition fee waiver for SCs and STs, the disabled, and those belonging to economically weaker sections is to continue, for instance.
Students belonging to families whose annual income is less than Rs 1 lakh will also be able to avail the waiver. Those belonging to families with annual income of less than Rs 5 lakh will be entitled to a waiver of two-third amount of the fee irrespective of their category. The rest of the students will be facilitated with loans to fund their education, the officials said. Students who are already enrolled in various IITs will continue to pay their fee according to the old slabs and the new structure will be applicable only for fresh enrollments, they added. The matter will be “placed in next meeting of the IIT council for ratification”, the Ministry’s press release said. However, a Facebook post from a page claiming to be the official page of the Director of IIT Kharagpur, attaching a letter sent to the Directors of all IITs, claimed on April 11 that the hike “applies to current as well as new students”. The same is yet to be confirmed.
A senior student representative at IIT Roorkee, who wished to remain anonymous, told YKA that while a gradual increase in fees would have been sensible, a hike of over 100% could affect students. He also said that he was aware of students who would be affected due to the hike despite the loan scheme. “It is a poorly researched argument,” he told YKA when asked about the necessity of funds for research and infrastructure development cited by the IIT Council.
“For students pursuing higher education, this is going to hurt worse. The stipend such students receive (even abroad) is often barely enough for them to break even, let alone allow debt payment. The number of students who pursue grad school (already minuscule) will go further down,” an alumnus of IIT Roorkee, currently a research scholar at Yale, told YKA. This may also negatively affect the startup culture, he added.
“Grant schemes (both industrial and governmental) must be developed and promoted, over and above a base lab startup budget that needs to come from the government and/or donors. Once on their own feet, research labs can then use their quality as currency to attract more research money and students,” he told YKA.
“Students at IIMs currently do this to pay for the extremely high tuition costs. However, the average industry salary is about 5-6 lacs per annum at IIT-R (unlike IIMs), and so, an average student will need several years to pay off their debts. It will worsen India’s culture of going for the highest paying jobs and not jobs that students like to do. India’s social structure entails families dependent upon their children to support them financially, and this change will only postpone a family’s financial stability,” the IIT Roorkee alumnus told YKA.
When the hike was being discussed in October last year, opinions on the hike varied among the directors of the various IITs. While some were of the opinion that this was not an effective way of increasing the income of IITs as most students are on scholarships or exempted from paying the full fee and that such a move will discourage all sections of society from pursuing higher education, others regarded the hike as a necessary step.
Shivali Goyal, General Secretary of the Students’ Affairs Council at IIT Delhi, told YKA that the opinion among students too is divided. “Some students are of the opinion that this fee hike is completely justified because we as IITians are not adding a lot of value to the, you know, Indian economy,” she said. However, other students think that “IITs stand for bringing up people,” she said and added that such a move will defeat that purpose.
However, she personally thought that the hike was justified because people at IITs are moving to jobs in finance, consulting, etc, and could earn the money to repay loans. “That kind of financial independence will help us ensure better facilities,” she said explaining the need for funds, as the facilities are not at par with private institutions. She further said that while students are on to high-paying jobs, the repayment to the institute is a “justifiable transaction”. “If we end up not repaying them by doing research or by contributing to social causes or, you know, uplifting the Indian economy, I don’t think it is very justified for them to be spending such huge chunks of money,” she added. “This point cannot be completely ignored that a lot of students who would, who actually deserve to be present here, who completely deserve to have this kind of an education will now not be in a position to avail it,” she told YKA.
Devendra Govil, a fourth-year student at IIT Bombay, told YKA that he doesn’t deny that “IITs should do a lot more when it comes to attracting engineering talents and retaining them” but that it would be wrong to “shift from systemic flaws, and instead blame the students outright”. He said that “IITians going abroad continue to massively contribute to Indian society” by building valuable skill in advanced fields, building “a link, a liaison of sorts, to bring in investment, technology, capital, and even commercial partnerships,” etc.
“IITians have high proclivity to enter entrepreneurship, and business, thus creating valuable jobs, and while their engineering education may not seem to be important in those fields (at least superficially), almost all IITians themselves affirm the role and importance of their IIT education, to inculcate values and mindsets of creativity and perseverance that ultimately takes them the distance,” he added. He also took exception to the fact that funds for research which are utilised mostly by PhD. candidates will have to be paid for by undergraduates.
With inputs from PTI.
Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Sign up here.
You can also subscribe to the Campus Watch Newsletter, here.